The Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor
April 19, 2011
Aural Highlight: James Williamson’s note-perfect opening solo on “Search and Destroy.”
Visual Highlight: An army of Ann Arborites on stage desperately trying to get a hand on Iggy Pop, followed by the five-minute walk of shame where they were slowly ushered off the stage to a Steve Mackay sax solo.
Obligatory Viral Moment: Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch filming the band’s performance of “Dirt” on his Flip camera from the left aisle.
Best Show Ever Index: 80%, but only because the other 20% saw the Stooges back when Iggy was still rolling around in glass.
This Stooges show was advertised as something special: a tribute to late guitarist Ron Asheton, the first hometown show for them since 1983, a charity show and a night of guests (including an orchestra). The night began with Henry Rollins, the MC of the evening, evangelizing about Ron Asheton and the power of the Stooges’ music. There was also a brief, touching speech from drummer Scott Asheton and a slideshow of photos of Ron. All signs were pointing to it being a night of reverence for the fallen Stooge, where people would eulogize him in an intimate setting.
Cut to the third song in the Stooges’ set, when Stooges father-figure Iggy Pop yelled, “I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, because it’s a nice theater and a special occasion, but I fuckin’ lied! Everybody get on this fuckin’ stage! Dive from the balcony!”
So no, it wasn’t a “sit on stools and mourn” sort of gig at all. It was a classic, no-holding-back Stooges concert, relatively speaking. After Rollins joined the Stooges for a searing rendition of “I Got a Right,” Iggy flailed onto the stage, pounding his chest like a gorilla as the boys charged in with “Raw Power,” “Search and Destroy” and the greatest cool down song in the Stooges’ canon, “Gimme Danger.” Iggy crowd surfed, audience members rushed the stage, and Iggy almost knocked himself out after tripping on a guitar cable and landing face first. (He then sang the entire next verse of “Loose” while lying on the ground – still punk, in case you’re wondering.) The entire set drew from The Stooges, Fun House and Raw Power, and the crowd — composed of people between their 20′s and 60′s – was in awe. They were also onstage screaming “Iggy and the fucking Stooges” into the mic after having stolen it from Pop himself. Either way.
After ripping through “Fun House,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell,” Iggy and guitarist James Williamson paid proper respect to Ron with a new song, “Ron’s Tune.” It was a sweet little acoustic requiem, a reflective moment that took the edge off. After that, a man from city hall gave each Stooge a key to the city of Ann Arbor. Iggy hugged the gentleman, thanked him and the band promptly charged into “No Fun.” Touché, Iggy. Touché.